Bhutanese Society and Dress


The Bhutanese society

The Bhutanese society is free of class or caste system. In general ours is an open and a good-spirited society.
As is the case elsewhere, living in a Bhutanese society generally means understanding some basic norms like Driglam Namzha, the traditional etiquette. This is a norm which desires that the members of the society conduct themselves in harmony and in a similar manner. For instance, wearing a scarf when visiting a Dzong (fortress), letting the elders and the monks serve themselves first, offering felicitation scarves when someone gets a promotion, greeting the elders or senior officials before they wish you, etc. are some simple manners that synchronizes the society.
In the Bhutanese society, the head is considered sacred and legs impure. So it is wrong to touch anyone’s head or stretch your feet in public. Visiting friends and relatives at any hour of the day without any advance notice or appointment clearly depicts the openness of the Bhutanese society.

Bhutanese Dress

The traditional dress of Bhutan is one of the most unique in the world. Men wear gho, a long robe that is raised till knee, folded backwards and then tied around the waist by kera, a belt. But the dress for the tribal and semi nomadic people like the Brokpas of eastern Bhutan and the Layaps of western Bhutan have a unique dress of their own and do not wear the gho and Kera. The Brokpas wear a dress made of yak hair and sheep wool with an animal skin over it and a hat with five fringes hanging from the sides. While the Layap men dress Gho the women dress differently with a loose outfit that reaches their calves. The dress is again made of yak hair. On the head they put on a conical bamboo hat. On formal visits to a Dzong or an office, Bhutanese men wear a scarf called kabney. Wearing of kabney is an important part of the Bhutanese decorum and should be put on in a right manner. The kabney also identifies the rank of a person. For instance, the King wears the yellow scarf, minister’s orange, judge’s green, and district administrator’s red with a white band going lengthwise and common people white with fringes etc. Women on the other hand wear a rectangular shaped cloth piece called kira. It is tied by belt. However women wear their kira long till their ankle. Women also wear the scarf called rachu. They hang it over their shoulder and it is beautifully hand woven with fringes at the end. It is smaller than a kabney.

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